The New London Bulldogs may not have much depth this year, but have an array of skilled players at several key positions and are looking to make some noise in the competitive Bay Conference this year.
Sixteen seniors will lead the team and many have been playing at the varsity level since their sophomore year of high school.
“These are guys who have been playing football a long time and they’ve stayed active by playing other sports throughout the year as well,” coach Marc Marsh. “They’re the heart and soul of our team.”
A handful of juniors and a group of underclassmen will round out the team, as a few juniors played on the varsity team last year. Marsh said 12 sophomores will help form a good scout team that will gain valuable experience while practicing against the first-string offense and defense.
“We have 62 total players right now,” Marsh said. “Everyone is going to have to work hard and we’re hoping everyone can stay healthy.”
Senior quarterback Dylan Keehn returns to the team at full strength this year. He started as a sophomore, but was hurt on the first drive of the season last year. That injury ended his junior season.
“Dylan has good knowledge of the game,” Marsh said. “He may be a bit rusty at first, but he is going to do some very good things for us once he finds his rhythm.”
Connor Hoell will lead the running backs. Last year, he piled up 700 yards on the ground and scored seven touchdowns. Fullback Andrew Klauss will provide blocking and Zach Duenas will have opportunities to use his speed to carry the ball on the perimeter.
Nick Thomas will be the team’s top receiver after a strong season last year.
The offensive line will feature Jake Fields at center and Alex Thiemer at guard.
“We will be solid up the middle, while the rest of the line will just have to mesh together with those two guys,” Marsh said. “Our linemen are a hard-working group of guys.”
Austin Wyngaard will anchor the defense from the nose tackle position.
“Austin is strong and quick,” Marsh said. “He is going to create a lot of havoc.”
Thiemer, Klauss and Tommy Thurber are penciled in at linebacker.
“All three are very physical kids,” Marsh said. “They’re very tough.”
Thomas and Nick Strong are defensive backs, while Hunter Zaddack and Carter Thompson will play cornerback.
Punting and extra point duties are still up for grabs, but freshman Jack Noffke has already earned the kickoff responsibilities and will likely compete for the other kicking positions as well.
Hortonville won the Bay Conference last year, but the Polar Bears have moved to the Valley Football Association-South Division.
“The top team in the Bay Conference this year will probably be the new team, Menasha,” Marsh said. “West De Pere will probably be the second-best team, followed by a strong Seymour team. After that, it’s a dogfight. We hope to compete near the top of that middle tier of teams. If we can minimize injuries this year, we’ll have a very good shot at making the playoffs.”
Marsh and his coaching staff remain unchanged, though Sam Schulz has taken over as the freshman coach. Jess Evans is volunteering his time as an assistant.
“Fans can expect us to move the ball a lot better this year than we did last year,” Marsh said. “We hope to have a more balanced attack on offense.”
The Bulldogs will open the season at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22, by hosting Menasha.
“This group of kids really works hard,” Marsh said. “The kids are buying in. We will get better as the season goes on.”